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Wednesday
Jan032007

Optimism, Health & Longevity

The health press are hot on the trail of positivity of late, as mounting evidence shows that those who live with their glass half full are living longer.

This could be for a variety of reasons, two of the more obvious ones being:
1. that negativity is stressful and gets us down physically as well as emotionally and
2. that the body and mind are expert at manifesting our feelings and expectations.

Simply put, pessimists tend not to expect to live a long and healthy life, and their body may well dutifully arrange things to make it so.

Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania recently conducted a study in which “pessimistic” students were sent to optimism workshops, as a direct result, many of them began experiencing reduced anxiety and paying less visits to the school’s health services department.

The good news , is that optimism is contagious, but we have to be willing to allow that chink of light through the curtains that lift our spirits. This is where support groups and workshops can be of great value, as they can help us learn new skills to pep up our outlook.

Here are a few fun and easy ways to change the way you look at your glass:

- make it a game – if you catch yourself having a downcast thought about something, just say "oops" to yourself, look up and arrange your face in a smile and have a think about how many ways you can find to see it differently.

- start a gratitude journal – write down every day the things you have in your life to be happy about and grateful for. There's always something. Write at least three every day and then read through them, pick one and sit back and close your eyes and think about it for a minute. Try and recall it vividly and in detail so you can really feel it.

- choose your company carefully – be it people, what you watch, or what you read, be careful who you're hanging out with. Grumpiness and pessimism can be contagious!

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